Vietnam currency - Travel guide info
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Vietnam currency

Until recently, many upmarket hotels insisted that you pay in US dollars, but now all businesses (except Vietnam Airlines) must accept payment in dong. In practice, many still display their prices in US dollars. It's advisable to bring travellers cheques in US dollars as well as a little US currency.

  • Currency

    Vietnamese dong

    The banknotes come in denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. In small towns, it can be difficult to get change for the larger notes, so keep a stack of smaller bills handy. Now that Ho Chi Minh has been canonised (against his wishes), you'll find his picture on every banknote.

    Coins are being reintroduced for use in Vietnam, partially to help stave off the number of counterfeit banknotes. There are coins to the value of 1000, 2000 and 5000 dong.

  • Changing Your Money

    There is now a reasonably extensive network of ATMs in major cities and this can be a convenient way to get your hands on money. It is also handy to have a combination of US dollars and travellers cheques for more remote or rural parts of the country. There are four ways to exchange currency: at a bank, through authorised exchange bureaus, at hotel reception desks, and on the black market. The best rates are offered by the banks, but the exchange bureaus are generally more conveniently located and have longer opening hours. The black market rate is worse than the legal exchange rate, so if you're offered better rates than a bank it's bound to be some sort of scam. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB credit cards are accepted in the major cities and towns popular with tourists.

    It's virtually impossible to exchange travellers cheques outside the major cities and tourist areas. Visitors heading off the beaten track will either need to stock up on dong, or conduct a private cash transaction on the black market. It's a good idea to bring a small calculator with you for currency conversions, unless you're the kind of person who can divide or multiply by large numbers in your head.

  • Money Tips

    Travellers staying in budget accommodation and eating in small cafes should be able to get by on around US$20.00 to US$25.00 per day, plus long-distance transport costs. Those wanting to stay in mid-range hotels, eat out at moderate restaurants, charter occasional taxis and enjoy the nightlife should budget on around US$65.00 a day.

  • Sample Price Guide

    local iced tea
    bottle local soft drink
    local beer
    process roll of color film
    litre of petrol
    litre of water
    souvenir t-shirt
    street stall snack - pho bo
    internet access per minute
    short taxi ride
    restaurant meal
    US$ 3.00-10.00
    hotel room with air-con
    US$ 10.00-20.00
    internet access per hour
    US$ 0.20-0.50
    short cyclo ride
    US$ 0.50
    two-kilometre taxi ride
    US$ 1.00-2.00
  • Tipping

    Government-run hotels and tourist restaurants usually add a 5% service charge to bills so there's no need to tip (although staff may not get any of it). Leaving a small tip in other restaurants will be greatly appreciated by the staff. You should consider tipping hired drivers and guides, and it's polite to leave a small donation at the end of a visit to a pagoda.